Setting Boundaries in Addiction Recovery

May 3, 2022

Yellow guardrail along curvy road with sunset over the sea and village

For a victim of substance abuse, boundaries can be tricky for a number of reasons. For some victims, the lack of boundaries may have begun in their childhood and home, while for others it may have started when the addiction began, depending on the circumstances. But for many victims of substance abuse, any type of boundaries may be non-existent.

That is why in a addiction recovery program such as those at Gratitude Lodge, team members work with patients to establish healthy boundaries. Think of these as guardrails to keep patients in recovery on the right path and away from negative patterns and influences.


Personal boundaries are the lines we create for ourselves to maintain our comfort level when it comes to our opinions, beliefs, and personal space. Boundaries are essentially protection for ourselves and our well-being. Boundaries can fall under different categories including:

Emotional Boundaries – this includes how a person treats us and talks to us. For patients in recovery, that includes your feelings and how others make you feel. Setting up an emotional boundary means that you will not allow people to manipulate your feelings, nor allow you to feel guilty about something that may have occurred in the past.

Physical Boundaries – this involves your personal space and what you are comfortable with as far as physical touch or even physical triggers. A boundary that patients in recovery and those completing recovery may set in this category is not allowing alcohol in your home or asking someone to not drink in your home. This boundary removes a powerful temptation from your life.

Time Boundaries – many patients in recovery may find themselves with more time on their hands after conquering their addiction. A time boundary may be necessary to help you manage time wisely and not allow boredom to cause a relapse into addictive behaviors.

Mental Boundaries – a patient’s mental health is key when going through recovery. Remaining in the right headspace is important during and after recovery for a productive life. Mental boundaries can keep you from dwelling on the past or actions of the past that fed your addictive lifestyle. Filling your mind with positive thoughts and subjects is a great way to build mental boundaries.

journey is forbidden established near the steel limiting barrier


It is important for patients to establish boundaries while in addiction recovery to help prevent setbacks and reduce the risk of a relapse. There may be some people who are not so supportive of your choice to become sober, and they may try to tempt you to resume bad habits. Establishing boundaries erects barriers of protection around you and provides a map that leads to successful recovery and long-term sobriety.

A certain level of assertiveness is key to sticking to your boundaries. Certain boundaries are established by your recovery team at Gratitude Lodge; but we cannot live the rest of your life with you.

Learning how to establish boundaries and developing the strength to not violate them are key lessons for achieving long-term sobriety. Gratitude Lodge can help you accomplish that.

Some key steps in establishing boundaries are:

Determine Your Personal Rights – this includes your values, beliefs, and feelings. To do this, you have to determine what is important to you and what you wish to be respected.

Voice Your Limits – what are you comfortable and uncomfortable with? Going through recovery, your level of comfort may have changed due to your values and opinions changing, so it’s important to let others know that you have new limits.

Speak up for Yourself – be assertive, and don’t be afraid to inform others where your new boundaries are and when they are getting too close. If you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation, be willing to tell others your feelings and choices.

Respect the Boundaries of Others – know that everyone has their own boundary lines and learn to respect those in the same way you want your boundaries to be respected.

woman living with HIV soaking in the fresh air at a nearby body of water


What does it look like to have healthy boundaries in place during addiction recovery? Ideally, patients in recovery will begin to value their own opinions, they will not compromise values for others, learn how to share information without under or oversharing, know their personal wants and needs and can communicate them, and know how to accept a “no” answer.

Healthy boundaries help patients in recovery with:

Resisting Temptation – setting boundaries allows you to cut out people who are toxic or places that can cause you to relapse and fall back into bad habits.

Learning How to Say “NO” – saying no communicates to others that you are not comfortable with what they are asking of you, especially if you believe it is something that can lead you back into addiction.

Improving Communication – clearly and effectively communicating your needs, values, boundaries, and new goals to others helps them respect you and your new choices.

Learning to Take Responsibility – with a new boundary of having respect for yourself, you learn to take responsibility for your actions and accept the consequences of those actions.

A More Successful Life – having boundaries leads to a healthier lifestyle and improves your self-esteem, which allows you to be happier.

Creating personal boundaries allows you to build yourself back up, regain confidence in yourself and respect yourself after conquering an addiction. Once that is accomplished, it is easier to navigate your way through long-term sober living.

The credentialed and experienced team at Gratitude Lodge is here to help guide you through the process of addiction recovery and help you establish healthy boundaries. Contact us today for more information about our addiction recovery programs in Long Beach and Newport Beach, CA.


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Yellow guardrail along curvy road with sunset over the sea and village


Don’t Let Addiction Control You



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